TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday honored former Florida State University coach Bobby Bowden with the Florida Medal of Freedom during a ceremony at the governor’s mansion.
DeSantis said it was not only Bowden’s wins on the field that led him to be honored but his attitude off the field, including his moral character, his faith in God and his patriotism.
“In 1976, football in the state of Florida changed forever when coach Bowden showed up in Tallahassee and I think that first year was the only time he ever had a losing season his whole time here. And what he was able to accomplish to put this university on the map as such a great football program, it obviously meant a lot for the school, it meant a lot for the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.
Bowden coached at FSU for 34 years before retiring in 2009 and is second on the major college football career victories list, according to ESPN.
“I look back at all the great things that have been accomplished by Florida State football and I’m reminded of how coach Bowden would take, really, boys coming in who are just graduating in high school and turn them into men. And he created a program where people did great things on the football field,” DeSantis said.
For Bowden, the honor came as a surprise. He said he’d been told recently to mark the date on his calendar but was never told why.
“I appreciate you giving me this honor. I will treasure it the rest of my life, which I don’t know how long it’s gonna be. Once you get 90, boy, you know, you don’t think about the future too much, you worry about the same day,” Bowden joked.
DeSantis ended the ceremony by placing the medal around Bowden’s neck and announcing that Wednesday would be recognized as Bobby Bowden Day in Florida.